Spring on a plate

Today was spent on long walk on part of the London Loop with a good friend on a beautiful spring day.  Just what was needed to help put the world to rights.   This was the perfect dinner – Jersey Royals and English Asparagus taste like spring on a plate.  Life is good.

Spring on a plate

Serves 2

1 packet of Jersey Royal Potatoes

I red onion

3 cloves of garlic

Few sprigs fresh thyme

1 lemon

1 bunch asparagus

Handful of baby spinach

1 packet halloumi

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper


Preheat oven to 180C

Wash potatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on size.

Cut onion into wedges.

Crush garlic cloves

Quarter lemon

Cut asparagus

Cube halloumi

Mix potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, oil and lemon in a large baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes,


Mix in asparagus and spinach.

Add halloumi on top.

Bake for further 15 minutes until halloumi starts to turn golden brown.

Season with pepper and serve immediately.




Coconut Milk Cake

Browsing for a suitable recipe to take to a barbecue this weekend I came across this vegan Coconut Tres Leches Cake* and couldn’t resist- here is my adaptation of it.



240ml cup unsweetened almond milk

½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

200g plain flour

30g cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

130g golden caster sugar

2 teaspoons almond extract

120ml olive oil

Coconut Caramel

1 can full fat coconut milk

200g brown sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt


Toasted coconut flakes/chips

Pinch of Ground cinnamon



Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 20 x 20cm with baking parchment.

Add the apple cider vinegar to the almond milk then set them aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl mix together the sugar, extract, oil, almond milk and vinegar.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until golden and a cake tester in the middle comes out clean.

While the cake is baking make a start on the caramel. Mix the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a heavy bottom saucepan.

Bring to a boil over a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring regularly.

Once the cake is out of the oven let it cool and then with a cake tester or toothpick poke multiple holes in it.  Pour most of the caramel over the top, leaving some to decorate with.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serve cold, topped with a drizzle of caramel, toasted coconut chips and pitch of cinnamon drizzled over the top.

Optional; serve with whipped coconut cream on the side.


*Adapted from Thug Kitchen

** I like these coconut chips

Rhubarb cupcakes

This recipe was given to my by a good friend – the cake was so good that it was all finished before I got a chance to take any pictures! I liked them plain but they would be good with cream cheese icing/whipped cream.


Makes 12 cupcakes


1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup yoghurt

3 cups diced rhubarb
1 vanilla bean halved lengthways
1 cup water


Preheat oven to 180C (160C in fan oven).

Line a standard cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake wrappers

Sift together flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt and ginger.

Cream together butter, 1 cup sugar til light.

Add eggs slowly.

Beat in vanilla extract.

Add flour in 2 batches, alternating with the yoghurt

Be careful not to over mix

Stir in 2 cups of diced rhubarb.

Divide batter to fill each cup 3/4 full.

Bake on the middle shelf for 25 mins.

To make rhubarb topping, put the cup of water and remaining cup of sugar in pan, simmer and dissolve sugar.

Add the vanilla bean seeds.

Remove from heat and add the remaining cup of rhubarb. Coll completely and then remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon.

Re-simmer the syrup to thicken it a bit.

When cakes have cooled a little bit make several holes in each with cake tester/skewer and spoon about 2 tablespoons of syrup on top of each.

Leave to cool completely before eating.



Rosemary Bread

It’s been a lazy snowy Sunday. Had a lazy morning followed by a long walk in the snow and then an afternoon of baking starting with this Rosemary Bread, adapted ever so slightly from A Pastry Affair’s gorgeous recipe

1 loaf


450g strong white bread flour

7g (1 sachet) fast acting active dry yeast

180 ml warm semi-skimmed milk

150 ml warm water

2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

60 ml extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for greasing bowl and tin)


  1. Put the flour, yeast, salt, pepper and rosemary in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Pour the water, milk and oil into the well.
  3. Mix until it all comes together (can add a small amount of extra flour or water if required)
  4. Knead the dough throughly for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel/cling film. Leave in a warm place for approx 2 hours.
  6. Knock back down. Knead again gently on a floured surface and place into a lightly oiled 2 lb loaf tin.
  7. Cover with tea towel and leave to rise again in a warm place for 60 mins.
  8. Preheat oven to 180C
  9. Sprinkle top of loaf with sea salt and bake on middle shelf for 45 mins. (i like to put a small bowl of water in the oven to get a good crust)
  10. Leave to cool slightly on wire rack (if you can resist cutting into it!). Enjoy!


South Indian Corn Curry

Part of this New Years Eve dinner menu and one of my favourite dishes. The recipe originally came from my mum and is really simple to make.


Feeds 4 (with some leftovers)


2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

15 curry leaves

4 slices chopped jalepeno chillies from jar

2 tsp vinegar from jalepeno jar

4 tomatoes, cut into halves.

2 tins coconut milk

6 cobs of corn, cut in halves (fresh or frozen)


1 Boil corn cobs until just tender. Drain and leave to one side.

2 Heat oil in large pan and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds.

3 When they are starting to sizzle add turmeric, curry leaves and chillies. Then add tomatoes, cut side down, and leave to soften (about 7 mins)

4 Add coconut milk and vinegar, and add salt to taste.

5 Add corn cobs to the gravy and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serve with chapatis, pita bread or basmati rice.

This can be made the day before needed and just heated up before serving.

Picnic food – Cheese, olive and mustard scones

After another long week at work it was a pleasure to enjoy the long awaited sunshine last weekend. I planned a lazy saturday and a picnic in a nearby park. I stocked up on fresh strawberries and some goodies from my favourite deli Bant a la cart and made some peanut butter brownies (see previous post for brownie recipe) and some savoury scones. These are really simple to make and all sorts of things can be substituted … try different types of cheese, sun dried tomatoes etc. Delicious!

Cheese, olive and mustard scones

Makes 6-8 scones


225g self raising flour

55g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

75g grated cheddar

60g olives, chopped (i prefer green ones!)

120ml semi skimmed milk/buttermilk (+ a small amount for the glaze)

3 teaspoons wholegrain mustard


Preheat oven to 220C/425 F

Lightly flour a baking tray

Sift flour into a large bowl

Rub in butter with fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs

Stir in cheese and olives

Mix mustard into milk

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the milk into it

Mix well with a dinner knife until a soft dough is formed

Bring dough together with your hands.

Either shape into a ball on the floured tray and score into wedges (looks more rustic) or lightly roll out on a floured surface and cut into circles, before placing on tray.

Brush tops of scones with milk (or can use beaten egg to give a glossier finish)

Place on top shelf of oven for 15-20 mins

Cool on wire rack or eat immediately spread with butter.


The same recipe can be used for sweet scones by adding 30g caster sugar and 80g dried fruits/nuts instead of the savoury fillings. Serve warm with clotted cream, jam and tea!


Beginners sewing class

As part of my quest to be more creative and cultivate new interests outside of my work I decided to sign up for a beginners sewing class at The Stitchery in Cardiff. I have been wanting to learn to sew for a while – but the last time I used a sewing machine was at Home Ec lessons in school many moons ago! So feeling enthusiastic but also very rusty and a bit apprehensive I turned up bright and early one sunday morning for my lesson. I was immediately made to feel welcome by Helen and she explained what the plan for the day was. Like myself the other 4 participants were all essentially beginners to so we started right from basics with winding a bobbin and threading the machine. We then spent the morning getting used to using the sewing machines and practicing a variety of hems.

After a quick lunch break we were back at our machines to make a zippered make up bag – using a very simple pattern Helen showed us a step-by-step method to make our bags. I was very pleasantly surprised with mine at the end – luckily the slighty wonky seams are on the inside so can’t easily be seen!

I had a great day at the class. I felt a real sense of achievement at being able to create something pretty and enjoyed the fact that in order to concentrate on the sewing I had to clear my mind of all other intrusions. I hope to book more courses at The Stitchery and in the meantime am off to Ikea to buy my own sewing machine…make up bags all around for Christmas!


Toffee apple crumble

or a.k.a Friday night comfort food


As I am currently working away from home, spending my weekdays in work accommodation, I really look forwards to weekends back in my cosy flat. Friday nights tend to be quiet affairs with a trip to the shops on the way home to stock up for the weekend and a delicious dinner of homecooked comfort food. Last week it was Roasted tomato and spinach risotto with a side of griddled fresh asparagus. This was followed by toffee apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. Easy to make and smells delicious while baking. Perfect accompaniment to curling up on the sofa and catching up on trashy TV.

Serves 4-ish


23cm pie dish


2 Bramley apples (peeled, cored and sliced)

1 tin Carnation caramel

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon demerara sugar/vanilla sugar

Crumble topping

100g plain wheat/spelt flour

60g butter, cubed

60g light brown sugar

40g flaked almonds

40g ground almonds

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Good quality vanilla ice cream/custard/cream/combinaion of above

Preheat oven to 180C

Rub butter into flour and cinnamon until resembles breadcrumbs.

Add sugar, ground and flaked almonds and mix through.

Line pie dish with slices of apple

Top with a generous layer of caramel.

Top with crumble mixture

Place on middle shelf of oven and bake for 20-25 mins

Serve with ice cream/custard

Leiths retro baking class

Last Saturday I went on a retro baking class at Leith’s. I’ve been keen to do a class at Leith’s for a while and got given a voucher for Christmas

The menu for the retro baking course included peach Melba cheesecake, muscovado sugar cupcakes with salted caramel frosting and scones with elderflower and strawberry compote. Though not a novice to baking I have struggled to make fluffy scones and cheesecakes without cracks so thought this would be a good time to learn and a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Armed with our aprons we turned up at leiths bright and early to be greeted with delicious pastries and coffee. The class was taught by Max and her assistant Lou who gave us a demonstration and a plan for the morning and we were off!

All our ingredients had already been measured out for us and our washing up was done for us along the way too… Very decadent! We were given lots of advice and handy tips and tricks throughout the day and max and Lou were brilliant at helping out and answering questions.

At the end off the session whilst we were packing up our goodies we were treated to a glass of bubbly and delicious savoury pastries… Much needed after a morning spent licking sugary spoons!

I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Leith’s and came away armed with lots of inspiration and ideas for baking. Everything tasted really good and I received lots of compliments. I’ll definitely be saving up some pennies to do another class!


The best brownies ever

My favourite brownie recipe is adapted from ‘The hummingbird bakery cookbook”. It has just the right chewy chocolate texture. I like adding extras to it…my favourites are dried cherries, walnuts, peanut butter chips but feel free to use your imagination!

Makes 16 pieces


200g dark chocolate

175g unsalted butter

275g golden caster sugar

130g plain flour

3 eggs, beaten

handful of nuts/dried fruit/choc chips etc


Preheat oven to 170C/gas 3/325F

Line 23×23 baking tray with baking parchment

Melt chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water

Stir until completely melted

Add sugar and stir until dissolved

Add flour and mix well

Stir in the beaten egg

Add any extras

Pour mixture into baking tray and bake for approx 30-35 mins

Wait until completely cool before cutting into squares and removing from tin